Spring Grove honors Olympic athlete Hali Flickinger on Monday, Sept. 5, 2016.
Three sizzling summer weeks, three accomplished young women and three world-class performances.
That’s the concise version of the inspiring stories that have dominated the York County sports headlines during the dog days of the 2019 summer.
Hali Flickinger, Lauren Moyer and Trinity Thomas have combined to bring some international recognition to our little neck of the woods.
And they’re not done yet, not by a long shot.
In fact, all three globe-trotting women have legitimate opportunities to represent the United States at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games.
Flickinger makes waves: The 25-year-old Flickinger got this successful summer surge started when she earned a silver medal in the 200-meter butterfly at the World Swimming Championships in South Korea in late July. She narrowly missed out on the gold medal after entering the final with the event’s top-seeded time.
The Spring Grove High School graduate has long been a force in the pool. She first shined for the York YMCA Swimming Club before becoming an All-American at the University of Georgia. In 2016, she made the U.S. Olympic team and finished seventh in the 200 butterfly at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
This year, however, Flickinger has taken her performance to an entirely new level. After taking a short hiatus from competition to recharge her batteries, mentally and physically, Flickinger returned with a regained passion and a newfound success.
She has now established herself as a true medal threat at Tokyo, and a gold medal in Japan would not be at all surprising.
Moyer steps up: Next up on the world stage was Central York High School graduate Lauren Moyer.
Like Flickinger, the 24-year-old Moyer is no stranger to athletic success. After excelling at Central, the field hockey standout became an All-American at the University of North Carolina.
She then earned a berth on the U.S. Women’s Senior National Field Hockey Team, which trains at the nearby Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Lancaster County. The midfielder has become a mainstay on the national team, making 69 appearances, or caps, for the U.S. squad.
At the recent Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, however, Moyer stepped up her game in a huge way. She entered the event with four goals in 63 caps for the U.S. team. In Peru, however, she tallied five goals in six games, helping the Americans to a 5-1 record and a bronze medal at the most prestigious women’s field hockey tournament in the Americas. The event concluded Friday.
The Americans, ranked No. 13 in the world, fell just short of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics. Only the gold medalist in Lima earned an automatic Tokyo bid. Still, the U.S. team will have another chance to make the 2020 Games at an Olympic qualifier later this fall.
If the Americans earn a 2020 Olympic berth, Moyer’s standout effort in the Pan Am Games should make her a very strong candidate to make U.S. team.
The U.S. women finished fifth in the 2016 Rio Games.
Thomas among nation’s best: In the last few decades, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team has clearly established itself as the world’s premier program.
Any gymnast that can make the U.S. senior national team is, without a doubt, one of the best gymnasts in the world.
You can most definitely include the 18-year-old Thomas in that category.
At the U.S. Championships that ended Sunday evening in Kansas City, Missouri, the former West York student earned three top-10 finishes, topped by a fourth-place finish in the uneven bars. She was also ninth in the all-around competition and 10th on the balance beam.
Those finishes earned her a fourth-straight berth on the national team.
Making the 2020 U.S. Olympic team, however, will be a challenge for the rising sophomore All-American at the University of the Florida, who developed her abilities at Prestige Gymnastics in Lancaster County.
The U.S. team, led by superstar Simone Biles, is absolutely stacked with exceptional talent, and only four women will be selected for the American team in Tokyo, down from five in previous years.
Making York County proud: No matter what happens in the year leading up to the 2020 Toyko Games, however, Flickinger, Moyer and Thomas have already made thousands of York County residents very proud.
As strong female role models, they’ve also undoubtedly inspired little girls all across the county — and the nation — with their sparkling athletic performances.
The future, of course, offers no guarantees for any of the three women.
One thing is certain, however. The trio has put a special spark into the dog days of a York County summer.
Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.